Darwin Biopic set for 2009


LONDON -- Oscar-winning producer Jeremy Thomas said Tuesday that he is prepping a biopic based on the life of evolutionist Charles Darwin and his relationship with his children.

Thomas will produce the movie through his Recorded Picture Co. banner and has recruited John Collee ("Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World") to pen a script based on the book by Darwin's great-great grandson Randal Keynes, "Annie's Box."

Keynes' book examines Darwin's relationship with his daughter Annie, whose death at just 10 years of age deeply affected the thinker.

Thomas said that he has lined up Jon Amiel -- whose work on "The Singing Detective" television drama here established him as a director of note -- to direct the project.

"In this age of raging debate about natural selection and creationism, I think it is a very timely story to tell. It's about Darwin and his relationship with his own children. It's an intimate film with big ideas," Thomas said.

Thomas said he plans to prep the story this year to shoot early in 2008 with the bicentennial of the famous naturalist and evolutionary theorist in 2009 looming.

He said the budget for the movie will be about $20 million and that he plans to make it in the U.K. The project will be set in and around Down House in Kent, where Darwin spent his final years.

The author of "On the Origin of Species" fathered 10 children, two of which died in infancy.

Thomas said he is setting up the project as a British qualifying film and is in the process of finalizing the financing. His recent credits include "Fast Food Nation," "Young Adam," "The Dreamers" and "Tideland."